The Americas

Venezuelan opposition says hurdle cleared in Maduro recall

  • FILE - In this June 22, 2016 file photo, Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro speaks to oil workers during a demonstration outside Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas, Venezuela. Venezuela’s opposition said Wednesday, July 20, 2016 that officials have validated enough signatures to proceed to the next phase of a referendum to recall Maduro, however, the National Election Council has not confirmed the validation of the signatures. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos, File)

    FILE - In this June 22, 2016 file photo, Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro speaks to oil workers during a demonstration outside Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas, Venezuela. Venezuela’s opposition said Wednesday, July 20, 2016 that officials have validated enough signatures to proceed to the next phase of a referendum to recall Maduro, however, the National Election Council has not confirmed the validation of the signatures. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • Opposition Congresswoman Adriana Delia, center, poses for a photo with supporters during a protest asking for a referendum against Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro, outside the National Electoral Council, in Caracas, Venezuela, Tuesday, July 19, 2016. The opposition is pushing for a recall referendum to cut short Maduro's term. They accuse elections officials of dragging their feet to delay the process. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)

    Opposition Congresswoman Adriana Delia, center, poses for a photo with supporters during a protest asking for a referendum against Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro, outside the National Electoral Council, in Caracas, Venezuela, Tuesday, July 19, 2016. The opposition is pushing for a recall referendum to cut short Maduro's term. They accuse elections officials of dragging their feet to delay the process. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)  (The Associated Press)

  • Bolivarian National Police officers form a cordon outside the National Electoral Council, as opposition members hold a protest asking for a referendum against Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro, in Caracas, Venezuela, Tuesday, July 19, 2016. The opposition is pushing for a recall referendum to cut short Maduro's term. They accuse elections officials of dragging their feet to delay the process. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)

    Bolivarian National Police officers form a cordon outside the National Electoral Council, as opposition members hold a protest asking for a referendum against Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro, in Caracas, Venezuela, Tuesday, July 19, 2016. The opposition is pushing for a recall referendum to cut short Maduro's term. They accuse elections officials of dragging their feet to delay the process. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)  (The Associated Press)

Venezuela's opposition says officials have validated enough signatures to proceed to the next phase of a referendum to recall unpopular President Nicolas Maduro.

Opposition leader Jesus Torrealba says election officials confirmed the validity of some 407,000 signatures that were under review. That's more than double the 200,000 required.

He says there is "no formal, legal or technical excuse" for the next phase of the recall drive not to begin immediately.

The National Election Council has not confirmed the validation of the signatures. But Torrealba said he expects an announcement soon.

If confirmed, the opposition can begin collecting the roughly 4 million signatures needed to hold a referendum on ousting Maduro.

Venezuela has been rocked by an economic crisis marked by rampant inflation and shortages of food, medicine and other goods.